I dislike most reality TV but I found myself getting pulled into 'I Want to Work for Diddy' because of its unexpected insight into HR topics. The basic premise is that they pull a bunch of people together who admit they don't want to do any real work and one token achiever, then give them annoying and impossible tasks to perform as a team. People get voted off until one finally gets to work for Diddy.
I was watching this at the gym the other day and found myself in complete sympathy with the overbearing team lead, who was also the only one on the team who was capable of getting anything done. She was also pretty open and obnoxious in her critique of the other people on the team but then again, they really weren't very good.
When it came time to vote someone off, the team voted unanimously against her because they didn't like her.
At first I thought this was kind of dumb because without her the others didn't stand a chance of buying a pack of cigarettes for Diddy and coming back with the correct change but then I thought about it a bit more carefully.
It's clear that their decision to vote her off the team was an emotional one, which is a good reminder to all of us that even if you think you're better than everyone else, you shouldn't flaunt it.
But there is a subtle logic to voting her off the team that reveals itself if you think about the probable outcome of not voting her off the team: over time it would become more and more apparent that she was the one getting the work done. Her competence actually represented a threat to the collective, which protected its members from being negatively singled out with its uniform incompetence.
My respect for the dum-dums rose when I realized this.
What can managers learn from this, besides 'don't be a jerk or people won't work for you'?
Don't expect people to make decisions that promote the greater good of their employer if it conflicts with their own greater good. Smart companies bring everyone's greater good into alignment.
That, my friends, is talent management.
Diddy apparently realized this as well, because his factotum (a hard-faced girl who used to be his PA) ended up keeping the competent girl in the running, kicking the worst of the losers off, giving the competent girl a pretty stinging lecture about her unbearable personality and telling the other losers they better straighten up or get lost.
And that, my friends, is performance management.